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* Posts by Mike Pellatt

127 posts • joined 17 Apr 2007

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Why won't you DIE? IBM's S/360 and its legacy at 50

Mike Pellatt

Re: Maintenance

@ChrisMiller - The IBM I/O channel was so well-specified that it was pretty much a standard. Look at what the Systems Concepts guys did - a Dec10 I/O and memory bus to IBM channel converter. Had one of those in the Imperial HENP group so we could use IBM 6250bpi drives as DEC were late to market with them. And the DEC 1600 bpi drives were horribly unreliable. The IBM drives were awesome. It was always amusing explaining to IBM techs why they couldn't run online diags. On the rare occasions when they needed fixing.

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How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example

Mike Pellatt

Re: So does OSX and Linux...

He's used Ubuntu for years but had swapped it for MacOS because the updates continually broke stuff

That's the price you pay for using a distro that "is never more than six months away from the latest version of anything in the open-source world." (http://www.ubuntu.com/about/about-ubuntu/ubuntu-and-debian). It's too bleeding-edge for stability - if you want that, use RedHat/Centos or Debian.

Horses for courses, old chap.

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Mike Pellatt

Re: XP will only be insecure if connected

I have a "customer" (in the sense that it's the precision engineering firm that my wife's ex used to own/run and I help them out occasionally) who has an NC machine tool controlled by a PC.

It runs Windows 95. The hardware includes a Hercules graphics card and one of those multi-serial boards. The issue isn't the software - coz of course it will never, ever see the internet or a USB device and It Just Runs (tm). The worry is the hardware. Three years ago I sourced a populated motherboard, a herc graphics card and a hard disk that are pretty much identical to the system, and cloned the software it onto the hard drive. I doubt I could obtain them now. The only worry is that multi-serial card. I have no idea if/when they'll replace that machine tool. All I know is it meets their needs today, which are of course driven by their customers.

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'Catastrophic' server disk-destroying glitch menaced Google cloud

Mike Pellatt
Facepalm

Re: This makes no sense

Maybe it's my Unix background, but I know that if i tell the system to delete something, the inode's listing will be removed from the directory I deleted from, But if the inode is listed in another directory somewhere else, the data will still be on the disk. And if the inode is open in a running process, the data will remain on the disk until the process exits or otherwise closes the inode.

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'Amazon has destroyed the unicorn factory' ... How clouds are making sysadmins extinct

Mike Pellatt

I'd have thought that the reason there are so few people on the job market who've gone through the pain of going from 500 servers to 10000+ is:

a) There aren't that many organisations who've done it.

b) For those who have done it, they recognise that keeping the skilled people who did it (and gained said skills through doing it) is crucial to their ongoing business success. So everything is done to keep them sweet.

Until, of course, the organisation changes ownership, at which point all bets are off.

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A potted history of cloud computing

Mike Pellatt

Re: Oh the security....

The Due Diligence issues can be summarised in one word

2e2

All the while an administrator (financial, that is, not systems) can say "Pay us more than you agreed to contractually or we won't return access to your data to you", just what cost/reliability improvements are really there vs rolling your own, if you properly risk-manage this ELE possibility ??

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Big Data is like TEENAGE SEX

Mike Pellatt

He cannot be serious. Oh, he is....

Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer at Microsoft [.....] agreed the "main challenge is the human element" as big data forces a change to scientific approach - moving from trying to work out why something happens to a "world of correlation based on sample sizes".

Errr, WTF ?? Yes, statistical correlation based on sample size is useful to validate theories (cf Higgs Boson, etc) - but that's based on a prediction of what should be observed if a theory about "why" is correct.

You don't, and can't, work the other way round. You may get a clue from correlation as to the "why", but that's just a pointer for further research and then working out a further set of predictions that you then validate experimentally.

For the result of applying correlation directly to causation, just look at all the crappy public health policies we've had over the last couple of decades, some of which are at last unravelling.

No wonder HP found Autonomy wasn't worth as much as they thought.

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Object to #YearOfCode? You're a misogynist and a snob, says the BBC

Mike Pellatt

Re: Interest

nah, I learnt Algol 68 on an ICL1902 (I think it was) at Kingston Poly in the summer of '72, between Lower VI and Middle VI.

Mind you, our Head of Maths had been offered a redundant IBM M/F but we didn't have the space. Or big enough incoming mains. That would have been fun.

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Hands up if you have one good reason to port enterprise apps to ARM

Mike Pellatt

Re: Windows

I've used Microsoft Exchange a few times over the years, but it is a pain to configure and still needs a lot of work.

The latest complaint from my users is that as soon as they change a new appointment to "all-day", it automagically changes the status from "busy" to "free". Which leads to appointments being put into peoples' holidays, unless they notice this and change it back again. Needless to say, googling reveals lots of moans about this and the inevitable "fix" that "fixes" an entirely different issue, nevertheless being flagged as the "answer" by some Microsoft forum moderator.

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Mike Pellatt

Re: Windows

"The first person to create a Linux-on-ARM compatible drop-in Exchange replacement will become a very rich person indeed. But to the best of my knowledge it hasnt happened yet."

OpenChange ??

http://packages.debian.org/search?keywords=openchange

I see arm in the available architecture list....

Not, of course, that a few people will become rich on the back of this. But plenty will make a decent living, which is acceptable to me.

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Fasthosts goes titsup after storm-induced power outage

Mike Pellatt

Re: A timely reminder to all

The most recent timely reminder (before this one) was that O2 wholesale outage in Northamptonshire (and surrounding areas) when it turned out that Level 3 had a PoP in a light industrial unit, when an adjacent unit caught fire. So much for VESDA and automated fire extinguishing systems...

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HTC: Shipping Android updates is harder than you think – here's why

Mike Pellatt

Re: The real biggest holdup

How I wish I could upvote that 100 times. Closed hardware is the biggest barrier to Android updates and alternative "ROM"s - look at devices like the Galaxy Y S5360 with the Broadcom BCM21553 chipset - which doesn't have an updated BLOB so no chance of Cyangenmod running on it - even if it did have enough memory.

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Ho, ho, HOLY CR*P, ebuyer! Etailer rates staff on returns REJECTED

Mike Pellatt

Give them credit. It's quite an achievement to find a courier worse than ShittyLink, wot they always used to use.

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Security guru Bruce Schneier to leave employer BT

Mike Pellatt

Re: 'thought leadership'?

Yeah, Dr. Peter Cochrane OBE suffered the same fate. If he'd been listened to, we'd have FTTP and picocells nationally by now.

But, as ever, the visionaries were ignored.

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Radio amateurs fret over G.fast interference

Mike Pellatt

Re: Good Riddens

You're talking about data over powerline devices within a property. This article is about data over telephone wires into the house - the delivery of internet services into a property.

Some similarities, but also some huge differences in the issues. For instance, modern "outside plant" is built with twisted pair wiring that has a reasonable degree of transmission-line characteristic at (low) radio frequencies. Mains cabling within a property has no such characteristic.

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Mike Pellatt

Re: Not a problem for DSL

Tell that to everyone who's broadband goes TU once the house next door gets covered with christmas lights and their dodgy controllers..... I guess I should have been a bit more generic about what I meant by "high-powered transmitter".

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Mike Pellatt

It works both ways, too - not only does the RF electrical signal leak out as electromagnetic waves thanks to the (very) imperfect transmission-line qualities of the local loop, but for the same reason the data signal is susceptible to high field-strength radio signals. There is clever defence against impulse noise (the most common universal source) but a high-power transmitter in your vicinity could well play havoc with the xDSL signals.

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Revealed: How Microsoft DNS went titsup globally on Xbox One launch day

Mike Pellatt

Re: Learning from mistakes

"That's the design of DNS - single master - not much Microsoft can do about that...."

Errr, no. How the database is setup is entirely separate from the client view of the domain. Single-master is the original design of the most-commonly used DNS server - ISC BIND - which is where you may have got that idea.

To give them a little credit, the MS DNS server gets its data from AD, so the data is mirrored at each AD/DNS server. However, its tight integration with AD makes the validity of the AD structure a single point of failure, and reduces the speed at which rollback can take place. As shown by this outage, it would seem. It's also a bit of a security risk to run DNS and AD on the same server, but I presume MS have separate caching servers facing the outside world to manage that risk (Ahem....).

Powerdns can use a range of backend databases, and using, for instance, PostgreSQL, can have a multi-master backend, with sub-minute rollback if set-up right.

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Xbox One site BELLY-UP in GLOBAL Microsoft cloud catastrophe

Mike Pellatt

Re: "You really are becoming the replacement Eadon"

"All the IP stack stuff is in the registry"

Whaaaat ??? Since when did executable code live in the registry ??

Oh, I see, you meant to say "All the IP stack configuration stuff is in the registry"

Which broken configuration method that Windows offers you choose to employ when porting (and it was impressive for MS to come up with an even more broken system than .ini files) is pretty irrelevant to the heredity of the code you're porting.

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BT jabbed by ad watchdog AGAIN over fibre deployment fibs

Mike Pellatt

Re: Basically...

Yabut - they claimed it was available across all of Manchester, when in fact it was only 50%.

Now, if it was 95%, I might have let that pass. But not 50%. No way. That's a blatant lie. False advertising. End of.

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Death of the business Desktop

Mike Pellatt

Re: Nice trend, crappy licensing

"ROI and TCO projections are always the problem"

Err, so apart from the fact that the financials don't work, this is an excellent solution.

Remind me again why VDI is meant to be such a great idea ?? Surely it isn't just being punted at the hapless users by the vendors looking to make increased profits ?? Never !!!!!

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Mike Pellatt

Re: I would imagine...

Whaaaaattt ?? £600 a year per user ?? That's 2 desktops a year.

Make it £5/mth, or maybe £10, and I might bite.

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Virgin Media to hike broadband prices by nearly 7 per cent

Mike Pellatt

And upload speeds are.....

Yep, upload speed on this "top-of-the range" product remains at a staggeringly slow 12Mb. And my 60Mb service is still stuck at 3Mb upload. Years after we were promised an upgrade

Didn't mention that, did he ?

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Lavabit, secure email? Hardly, says infosec wizard Moxie Marlinspike

Mike Pellatt

Re: Secure email

Doesn't protect against one vulnerability I can think of straight away..

http://www.contextis.co.uk/research/white-papers/pixel-perfect-timing-attacks-html5/

HTML5, insecure by design :-)

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WHY didn't Microsoft buy RIM? Us business blokes would have queued for THAT phone

Mike Pellatt

Re: Duurh

"if they ever bought rim the email platform would be thrown out of the window and exchange would replace it"

I thought BB10 did exactly that ?? It certainly does away with BES.

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OK, so we paid a bill late, but did BT have to do this?

Mike Pellatt

Re: Not just broadband...

You had signed a contract, but BT breached it, rendering it void.

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Mike Pellatt

Re: Terrible Idea. But...

If what you're saying is true, then there must have been dramatic changes in BT Business Broadband support in the last 4 years. Which I don't believe.

I thought I'd got a result when someone promised me that he'd take personal responsibility for resolving an ongoing issue my client had. He gave me his name. I asked him what number I could contact him on, and he told me I could get him on the standard 0845 number.

So when the problem wasn't resolved, I called that number and asked for him. I was told he worked in another office (there were, apparently, three offices that calls to the number were distributed to). Could you transfer me, then, please ?? No, they couldn't. That was the final straw. To use the "I'll take personal responsibility for the issue" line as a tactic to get the caller off the line is despicable beyond belief. And for BT to be unable to transfer calls between offices when that's a service they sell...... (Yes, I know they can but just wouldn't)

On the basis of that as the lowest point of (many) low points I will never, ever, ever use BT as an end-user customer if there is an alternative. Ever again. Never. Is that clear ??

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Mike Pellatt

Bailiffs at big companies

The episode of Bailiffs where they pitched up to enforce a debt against Fujitsu was a great laugh. They were very patient in explaining to the security man on the gate that he didn't have the right to prevent them entering and listing goods for seizure. The security guard was clearly very poorly trained as he didn't believe them <cough>. They were on the point of driving the van through the lowered barrier when senior management finally made the correct decision.....

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Mike Pellatt

You really should have known

If you believed BT's "go-live" dates for Infinity anywhere in London, and work in the telecomms business - well, what can I say. I don't have the "insider" knowledge that you ought to, and wouldn't believe them. Just look at how often the date for the exchange local to my organisation - Southwark - has been pushed back.

It's most obviously the case in London that BT are shit-scared of their leased line revenue vanishing on the back of business infinity - though that was irrelevant to me as our copper (or possible ali, going by the attenuation....) is EO.

I'm just so glad that Hyperoptic are now doing business leased lines. 100Mps for less than the price of 4-pair EFM. Perfect timing for me, too.

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Microsoft cans three 'pinnacle' certifications, sparking user fury

Mike Pellatt

Re: Stupid certification programs

Most of these certifications are dumb multiple choice questionnaires that can be passed with rote learning.

I've sussed multiple-choice tests. Do them by eliminating the "obviously wrong" answers. 90-95% of the time you're then left with the correct answer(s).

As I continue to bore everyone with, the only exam I took where my understanding rather than my memory was tested was an open-book exam in my 3rd year, on electronic circuit design. Set by (then) Dr (now) Prof Robert Spence. And therein lies the problem. You need top-notch examiners to set papers of that quality.

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Mike Pellatt
Boffin

Underscores the problem with vendor certifications

It's quite simple.

Professionals have their capabilities certified by the appropriate professional bodies.

Do you see Doctors gaining "Merck approved diagnoser" certification ?? Or Civil Engineers with "Accor approved steel designer" ?? Or Physiotherapists with "Mueller certified taping practitioner".

Of course not. Because it's just plain Wrong.

It is the same for IT Professionals. You need a degree and continuous professional development. Anyone waving a vendor certification around has, by very definition, too narrow a view of the landscape to be called a professional.

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BILLION-TONNE BELCH emitted from Sun to hit Earth this weekend

Mike Pellatt

Re: This again

Because aside from being utterly necessary to human life. the behaviour of the Sun is utterly fascinating to anyone slightly geeky.

And we are all geeks around here, aren't we ??

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'But we like 1 Direction!' Rock gods The Who fend off teen Twitter hate mob

Mike Pellatt
FAIL

Re: Foo Fighters for £15 ??

Pah. I'll raise you 50p to see Genesis when they were supporting Lindisfarne on tour and the venue (Kingston Poly) was too small for Lindisfarne to be arsed to play at.

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Microsoft warns of post-April zero day hack bonanza on Windows XP

Mike Pellatt

Scada on Windows ?? Deserve everything you get.

N/T

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No distro diva drama here: Penguinista favourite Debian turns 20

Mike Pellatt

An Rh/CentOS convert, me

Whereas I started with Slackware, found rpm a better packaging medium (Around RedHat 2, IIRC) and (obviously) gravitated to CentOS once RHN went payware.

Also, RH was more System-Vy whereas Slackware was more BSD/SunOSy around the init stuff, which I felt more at home with having learnt SVR2 in depth in '84.

ARM systems ('specially the slug) got me familiar with Debian, certainly came to understand and like the philosophy, Now that CentOS 6 is a full re-install rather than an upgrade (despite remaining at 2.x kernel, whereas squeeze to wheezy is 2.x to 3.x kernel, but only needs an upgrade), the inertia keeping me on CentOS on the '86 architecture is gone. Despite being a long time RH/.rpm guy, I'm sold on Debian/.deb now. Overall, it definitely does it better - maybe even "right". Wheezy multiarch is neat, too.

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Mobe-slurping Wi-Fi SPY BINS banned from London's streets

Mike Pellatt
Childcatcher

Re: What has it got in its pocketsess?(@ Chris Miller)

The telco certainly has the serial number of your SIM, and the IMEI(s) it's been inserted in, but given the ease of a MAC address being modified (compared to those other two) I can't see the utility of hanging on to it. And when you put the SIM into another phone, the MAC address will change. And, as I noted earlier, the association with the device is by IMEI.

OTOH, public WI-FI providers apparently do - Virgin Media on the tube, f'rinstance. But you voluntarily trigger that association when you sign-in to an AP.

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Windows desktop VDI

Mike Pellatt

Re: KISS

Someone else has already made the comment about "cloudy" providers - that you may find yourself held to ransom by administrators (not the system type :-) ) or other bean counters in the event of bankruptcy or administration. Unlikely, I'd admit, in Google's case, but not impossible.

If you Go Google, there's the not-insignificant risk that they'll drop an app you've become reliant on. This absolutely MUST be factored into the analysis.

I challenge you, as a small business, to get sufficient information from a cloudy provider to enable you to carry out due diligence on their system security and resilience. If you're content to believe SalesSpeak, so be it.

Finally - your comments about Google Mail. Sure, the Spam disappears. In my experience, though, so does far too much of the email you need. Their false positive hit is far, far, far too high for a professional email system - and where's the sense in having to plough through the Spam folder looking for the emails you missed - might as well have put the Spam in the inbox in the first place. I speak as one who, with good exim+sa-exm and amavis, manages <1% false negatives and 0 (yes, 0) false positives. Which is absolutely crucial for my people. And I get the bizarre pleasure of teergrubing the spammers :-)

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Every Friday is rat-out-your-boss-for-software-piracy Friday

Mike Pellatt

No Beatings, just flying chairs

N/T

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Users rage as Fasthosts virtual servers go titsup... again

Mike Pellatt

Re: Recommendations please!

RackSRV.

Competent beyond belief.

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BBC boffins ponder abstruse Ikea-style way of transmitting telly

Mike Pellatt
FAIL

Re: Not so good for real time...

But shurely using audio broadcast entertainment channels for time-setting is a technology that's had its day, wot with ntp being pretty much universal ?? And if you're off-net, there's always MSF.

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BSkyB-owned BE slams into traffic pile-up over 'unlimited' broadband lie

Mike Pellatt
Holmes

Because, as you rightly say, Virgin is coax, whereas BT is twisted pair. Which makes one hell of a diiference on how much bandwidth it can support.

I can't think of a way to turn the difference between the two technologies into MarketingSpeak.

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Murdoch hate sparks mass bitchin', rapid evacuation from O2, BE

Mike Pellatt

Re: Sad to see them go

Yabut - EFM is at a minimum 4 times the price of BE bonded. My need for 10Mbps uplink isn't valued at that, yet.

As I mentioned, EFM prices are said to be dropping - they do seem to be, but not quite to the level that I'll jump, yet. And you need to sign for 3 years or pay >1K upfront - also not good.

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Mike Pellatt
Unhappy

Sad to see them go

Agree on the Bulgarians - the most helpful call centre you could hope to find.

As I've bitched about far too often already, at the work location - no FTTC, exchange-only lines, no Virgin Media, too small for the ex-BE Hyperoptic peeps - a reasonably-priced bonded service from BE was an excellent solution.

I'm quite sure this service will be discontinued by Sky - it's not as if they're into niche services. The only saving grace is that EFM prices are dropping, and rumoured to be descending further (so don't sign up to 3-year EFM contracts, people !!)

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The IT Crowd returns to Channel 4 for a final episode

Mike Pellatt
Thumb Up

I have to say - Katherine Parkinson is absolute genius in "Before the Party" at The Almeida, finishing its run tomorrow night.

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Standard Model goes PEAR-SHAPED in CERN experiment

Mike Pellatt
Thumb Up

Re: Pear shaped matter?

You, sir, owe me a new keyboard.

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So long, Hotmail: Remaining users migrated to Outlook.com

Mike Pellatt
FAIL

Re: Impressive

That was another migration, done (and proudly announced by M$) some years ago. Some results from the Choccy Factory say this was in 2000. I remember it as later, but then at my age time does travel faster.

Needless to say, it involved all sorts of glitches and downtime. And about 4 times as much compute power to deliver the same service.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb496985.aspx is interesting reading. El Reg commented on it too http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/11/21/ms_paper_touts_unix/

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Researcher hacks aircraft controls with Android smartphone

Mike Pellatt
Childcatcher

Re: Die Hard II

All they needed to do was give out an incorrect atmospheric pressure for the location.

Rememberer a documentary on a company that flew cargo (mostly) for the oil exploration - Lion Air. Pilot coming into land at a Nigerian field - pointed ouit the wreckage at the side of the runway where the tower had given out incorrect pressure, pilot thought he as a few metres above the runway when he, errr, wasn't. Bang,

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Living in the middle of a big city? Your broadband may still be crap

Mike Pellatt
Facepalm

Re: Why me?

It's because you're too close to the exchange. It's a well-hidden fact, but if your line is connected directly into the exchange without going via a street cabinet (known as an "exchange-only", or EO line) then VDSL (the modulation technique used over the short bit of copper from the fibre termination to your property) is not possible.

It's theoretically possible to put the kit that would be in the big cabinet linked to the street cabinet directly into the exchange, but here are potential interference issues that mean this isn't approved.

Last time I looked, there was some waffling from BT about what they proposed to do about such subscribers (it's a surprisingly large number) but nothing concrete.

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